The Discovery Health Network has a new reality show called “Mystery Diagnosis,” and they’re looking for cases. Here are the specs, according to their website…
Did you spend years searching for a diagnosis before finding one? Did you see doctor after doctor, desperately looking for an answer to the question “what is wrong with me?”
- have spent months or years searching for a correct diagnosis;
- seen multiple doctors and gotten multiple diagnoses; and
- have ultimately reached a diagnosis that both you and your physician are satisfied with.
The eventual diagnosis doesn’t have to be rare or complicated, but the “journey” to solving the mystery should be tricky.
The episode I caught focused on two stories—one involving an athletic young man, and the other a very young girl, sick on and off from birth.
The young man presented with some joint pain, that was initially diagnosed as gout, but this finding “can’t be correct,” since, after all, gout only occurs in fat middle-aged or older men, right? He then goes through a succession of specialists, who start treating him for rheumatoid arthritis. This, too, is rare among the young, but since it is more expensive and “sexy” to treat, and is more technical than mere gout, it becomes the finding of choice.
Unfortunately, his pain only gets worse, and he suffers for five more years. The one bright spot in his life is his loyal girlfriend.
Desperate, he comes upon an orthopedic surgeon who decides to do a biopsy of his painful elbow, who—lo and behold—finds gobs of uric acid, giving an incontrovertible diagnosis of gout. The patient immediately goes off the arthritis drugs, gets onto a therapeutic regimen for gout, and he’s back to playing basketball in a few weeks.
We note that taking the biopsy was only good practice, and blowing off the initial gout diagnosis because it “can’t be so” demonstrates arrogance and pigheadedness extreme for even the medical profession. Would it surprise you that Dr. Rheumatoid Arthritis appears in this segment, blissfully unaware that he is the villain?
Our little girl has all sorts of problems as an infant, that seem to appear in cycles. Her mother takes her to numerous endocrinologists, who are unable to find anything. True, she looks sick, but BECAUSE they can’t find anything, it’s all in her mother’s mind. Some of the medical personnel accuse the mother of good old Munchhausen-by-proxy, conveniently ignoring her hostile attitude toward the doctors. For Munchhausen-by-proxy to work, of course, the parent has to ingratiate herself with the medics.
Meanwhile, the child is suffering, but that seems to matter only to the mother.
Three years into this mess, a real endocrinologist discovers blood coritsol levels about 5000 times higher than normal. The adrenal glands are removed, hormone supplementation is started, and before too long, we have a healthy little girl. Why this blatant finding was not discovered earlier boggles the mind, since the child endured countless blood tests prior to this. My guess is that certain panels were probably not run, since our faux experts doubtless “knew” that such tests were pointless.
These were “mystery” diagnoses only because the hapless patients were seen first by doctors who were way long on ego, and way short on talent. At least they’re alive.
That’s more than can be said about the victims of the I-45 killer(s). I-45 runs between Houston and Galveston, TX, and has seen scores of murders and rapes occurring within sight of the roadway. Sadly, since there are several jurisdictions involved that were not communicating with one another, it took a few years to even establish that there were many homicides in this relatively small area.
Given the large number of faceless truckers passing by, and the near-perfect settings for grabbing and disposing of victims, the notion of a so-called “suspect zero,” whereby one master perp is responsible for all the offenses, or the bulk of the crimes, comes to mind. Indeed, compared to the scenario in the movie “Suspect Zero” (2004), the conditions of I-45 are far more conducive.
Yet, the very first remark uttered by the FBI agent in charge of the investigation, in a TV special devoted to these crimes, was that such a theory is “preposterous.” No further explanation was given. He’s the expert, it’s preposterous, and that’s that! Maybe our expert doesn’t remember Gary Ridgway, the Green River Killer, who would qualify as a real-life suspect zero in anyone’s book, with 49 homicides over more than 20 years. One wonders how much this arrogance has hindered the investigation, as the body count keeps growing.
So, what’s the point of all this?
Beware the expert; or, just when you think you’ve got it wired, you don’t; or pride goeth before a fall. Points to ponder in these days of high-tech, professional incompetence, terrorism, polarization, and discontent.